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Barton O. Aylesworth

Genealogy info: Arthur (1), Chad (2), Thomas (3), Elhanan (4), Hiram (5), Ezra Morgan (& Melinda Hall)(6).

Barton O. Aylesworth came to Drake University of Iowa in 1889 as head of the Literature and Art Department and to serve as the chief assistant to Chancellor Carpenter. He was born in 1860, raised on an Illinois farm, attended Eureka College and served as a parish pastor for nine years prior to his arrival at Drake. Upon the death of Carpenter, he was named President in 1893, and was reputed to be the nation's youngest college president at the time.

His teaching was described as being "plain, pointed and powerful". "He had a ready gift of language, active imagination and ardent enthusiasm of youth....and instituted "Three-Minute Speeches" at the Drake chapel, which were pronounced to be "perfect gems".

His "progressive" nature made him very popular with the student body, while his support of certain social reform movements, such as 'Kelley's Army' during the depression of the 1890's, aroused some opposition among conservative elements, which may have contributed to his eventual resignation in 1897. He later became a leading lecturer and organizer for the Progressive Party in the state of Iowa.

In July of 1899  he was appointed president Of The Colorado Agricultural University, now known as Colorado State University. Barton had an easy-going demeanor, a willingness to delegate authority and a tolerance for opposing views when he assumed the CAC presidency at age 38 in July 1899. The combination of Aylesworth's non-confrontational style and the vocal agricultural group on the governing board allowed ranching and farming interests to take the college's agricultural programs to greater heights - and nearly to determine the destiny of the entire school.  Barton resigned from that position in 1908.  Aylesworth Hall exists today on the campus to commemorate his tenure.

**See also his
Genealogical History**

The following article appeared in the book "Portrait & Biographical Album of Polk Co. IA 1890,  pages 255 & 256" and provides a more complete biography of this famous American.

Barton O. Aylesworth

   BARTON O. AYLESWORTH, A.M., Ph. B., President of the College of Letters and Science, of Drake University, was born in Athens, Menard County, Ill., September 5, 1860, and is the only child of Ezra and Melinda (Hall) Aylesworth. He traces his ancestry back to a remote period. In Oliver Cromwell's army served five brothers, who at the restoration emigrated to America. From them has sprung a numerous posterity, some retaining the original spelling of the name, Aylesworth, while others have changed it to Ellsworth.

   The grandfather of our subject, Hiram Aylesworth, a native of New York, became one of the pioneer settlers of Trumbull County, Ohio, and amid the privations and disadvantages incident to life in a new country, reared a family of four sons. One of that number, Ezra, inherited the martial spirit of his English ancestors. In the early days of his manhood, he emigrated to Menard County, Ill., where he became acquainted with and married Miss Hall, a native of that State, and granddaughter of Thomas Hall, an estimable Virginian, of French Hugenot and German descent. Her parents, Fleming and Susan (Tice) Hall, removed to Illinois just before "the winter of the deep snow." The father is still living at the very advanced age of ninety-five years, and retains his mental and physical powers to a remarkable degree. He may well be proud of the family which he has reared, three sons especially being deserving of mention: Clayborn is an eminent minister of the Christian Church; Joel, a well-known druggist, was reporter for the Smithsonian Institute on Western Meterology; Elihu gained a well-wide reputation as a botanist. Without text book he began the study amid the luxuriant flora of Illinois, and so ardently did he devote himself to the subject as found in nature, that he was called "the Thoreau of the West." He soon took rank among the first botanists of the United States, and among his friends and correspondents was numbered the noted Asa Gray. At his death his vast herbarium became the legacy of the State. He also achieved distinction in the sciences, entomology and conchology. His death was brought on by exposure in the ardent pursuit of the subject to which he was so closely wedded.

   After locating in Illinois, Ezra Aylesworth followed farming until the breaking out of the war, when, feeling that his country needed his services, he bade good-by to his young wife and infant son, and offered his services to the Government. Acting as captain, he was killed while leading his company at the battle of Chickamaugua. His widow survived him eleven years.

   Being left an orphan (his father dying when he was three years old, and his mother during his fourteenth year), Prof. Aylesworth went to live with an uncle, who became his guardian, and took an active interest in his education. In 1879, he was graduated from Eureka College, of Eureka, Ill., with the degree of A.B., and afterward took a post graduate course in Bethany College in Virginia, receiving the degree of A.M. in 1880. The following year the same degree was conferred upon him by his Alma Mater. Upon leaving Bethany, he accepted a call as pastor of the Christian Church in Peoria, Ill., where he did noble work, building up the congregation and paying off its indebtedness. In the summer of 1881, he pursued a course in the Concord School of Philosophy, where he was enriched by contact with such masterminds as William T. Harris, A. B. Alcott, Dr. C. A. Bartol, Julia Ward Howe, and others scarcely less distinguished. Returning to Illinois, he took charge of the church in Atlantic, which under his ministry had a healthful growth. While in that city, he was united in marriage with Miss Georgia M. Shores, and unto them was born a son, Merlin H. After a pastorate of two years in Atlantic, Prof. Alyesworth removed to his farm for improvement and for quiet study. In the spring of 1884, he accepted a call from the church in Abingdon, Ill., where he remained until the fall of 1885, when he became pastor of the Church of Christ, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That congregation was young and full of vitality, and during the four years he labored with them, the numerical strength was more than doubled. that is now the Banner Missionary Church of the Brotherhood in Iowa. While in Cedar Rapids, he found diversion in leading a philosophy club composed of the best thinkers of the city, professors, doctors, lawyers, and others, and in editing the Book Shelf, a monthly devoted to reviews of books and literary productions in general.

   In 1889, Prof. Aylesworth, quite unexpectedly to himself, was called to his present position as President of the College of Letters and Science and Professor of Mental and Moral Science. He is making a special effort to broaden the work in literature and philosophy, and his work thus far has given excellent satisfaction. He has perhaps the most extensive private library in the city, containing over fifteen hundred volumes. Socially, he is a Knight Templar Mason, and while in College was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. In his political views, he is broad and liberal, though thoroughly in sympathy with the principles of prohibition. The faculty of Drake University is composed of some of the best educators of the country, not the least of whom is Prof. Aylesworth. He has achieved grand success for one so young. Ripe in scholarship, he is also an accomplished speaker, but his oriatorial powers were acquired. Until his second year in college he was seldom called upon to recite in public because of an impediment in his speech, but by constant care and practice, he developed a rich, clear, full tenor voice. We close this brief sketch without eulogy, knowing that the high position which President Aylesworth holds in one of the first universities of the State, is a better and higher compliment to his ability than any words of ours could express. He has the distinction of being the youngest college President in the United States. Of Prof. Aylesworth, one who has known him intimately, says: "while he is progressive in his trend of thought, and familiar with every advance movement in religion, science or philosophy, he yet holds always with unyielding grasp to the great primary truths of the gospel; like the artist who never leaves the primary colors of nature, however lofty his conception; or the musician who never forsakes the eight notes, though desiring and seeking an almost endless variation within their compass."

 

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